Sixty-three percent of Americans say Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples regardless of her religious objections, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey, which examined views about the defiant clerk in Kentucky who has drawn headlines nationally, found broad overall support for the idea that people should be treated equally under the law regardless of religion.
Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say it is more important to treat everyone equally than to accommodate someone’s religious beliefs when the two principles conflict. That view held sway across a broad range of Americans, including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives.
Moreover, nearly half of those surveyed — 45 percent — support the decision by a federal judge to send Davis to jail for not complying with his order to issue the licenses. An additional 16 percent say Davis should be forced to issue the licenses but oppose jail time.
The poll comes as the country debates the right of private citizens, business owners and government officials to opt out of condoning or participating in same-sex marriages in the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision that gay couples have a constitutional right to wed.
Meanwhile, the weeks-long standoff at the Rowan County Courthouse is dying down, with Davis out of jail and back to work — and her deputies issuing marriage licenses. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit rejected another Davis request to delay issuing the licenses.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted Sept. 7-10 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults, including land-line and cellphone respondents. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Davis, 44, an Apostolic Christian, has said that putting her name or title on a marriage license between two people of the same sex would violate her faith. For weeks, she refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone — a gesture of defiance that drew a cascade of lawsuits and made her a national celebrity among social conservatives.
A federal judge had ordered Davis to begin complying with the law on Sept. 1. She refused, leading the judge to jail her for contempt. He released her after five days but required that she not interfere with her deputies issuing the licenses in her place.
The issue of religious liberties has taken center stage in the Republican presidential primary, with candidates pledging to take a strong stand in favor of strengthening protections for people of faith. Several — including Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee — have lauded Davis for her actions.
About a third of those surveyed in the Post-ABC poll say Davis should not be forced to issue the licenses. But that group included many conservatives, who were surprisingly closely divided on the issue.
While nearly half — 49 percent — of conservatives say Davis should not be compelled to violate her religious beliefs, 45 percent say she should be required to perform her duties. People who identify as “very conservative” sided with Davis by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
Full poll results and a detailed methodology are available at wapo.st/pollarchive.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.